Ostensibly a technocratic instrument, goods and services tax (GST) nevertheless lends itself to philosophical analysis. Consumption taxes, in general, are congruent with Thomas Hobbes�s injunction that a person should be taxed on what they take out of the common wealth, rather than what they contribute through earnings and savings. GST, in its pure form, complies with the liberal philosophy of John Locke, which requires taxation to leave taxpayers� choices intact. Further, versions of GST that tax luxuries at high rates correspond with Jean-Jacques Rousseau�s prescriptions for heavy taxation of luxuries. Focusing on Australian, New Zealand, South African and United Kingdom systems, this article uses basic philosophical ideas to illuminate key equity issues and GST policy. In recent developments, the Henry Report has denied the fairness of GST-free supplies in Australia, and New Zealand has increased its rate of GST from 12.5 to 15 per cent. These developments bring urgency to perennially contentious policy issues.
Barrett, J. (2010). Equity and GST policy. Journal of Applied Law and Policy, 15-31.